columnBy Othello B. Garblah
Several audit documents relating to various transactions within the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have revealed lack of transparency and double dealings within the Mission.
The various audit documents which date back from August 2009 through to June 2012 covers various audit periods from 2007 to 2012 outlining flaws within the selection and awarding of contract.
In most instances, the audits revealed that senior officials ignored the UN's stipulated guidelines and procedures in awarding or selecting a vendor for a particular contract.
UNMIL has since accepted most of the recommendations made by auditors suggesting that these double dealings had unfolded in the system over a protracted period.
According to the auditors, in some cases, officials at the UNMIL's Procurement Section would encourage vendors of their choice to submit bids after the closing date, and days after technically accepted vendors have been identified.
This scenario was captured in the October 29, 2010 audit report which covers the period June 1, 2008 to March 31, 2010.
This audit review 22 contracts with values ranging from US6,000 to US80 million.
The total expenditure related to local contracts for UNMIL during the fiscal year of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 was 43, 851, 839 and 38,002 852 respectively.
In one of the 22 sampled contracts during the period under review, the contract(8MIL/CON/298) for vehicle maintenance with a initial not to exceed amount of US120,000 was awarded to a vendor who was requested by the Procurement Session to submit a bid after the bid closing date and after three vendors had been identified.
Interestingly, although the UNMIL officials at the Procurement Session had convinced the local committee on contract that the two vendors who were approached to submit bids after the closing date were the authorized dealers of the vehicles used by UNMIL, the job was subcontracted to one of the vendors who had earlier been identified by the one drafted in by UNMIL procurement officials.
The audit made reference to another instance where officials flouted the UN's Financial Rule 105.16,by requesting a Ghanaian vendor to apply for a contract that was meant for local companies. The UN Financial Rule 105.16 allows exception to formal solicitation only where there is no competitive marketplace for the requirement.
But during the request for expression of bids for one of the contracts under review, the expression of interest for the maintenance of generators with an initial not to exceed amount of US713,940 was advertised here in the local newspaper because it was a local procurement.
However, auditors discovered that the vendor who won the bid and was awarded the contract (Contract No. 8MIL/CON/292) was from Ghana. The vendor, the auditors said was invited by an official of UNMIL and was requested by the said official to provisionally register his company.
The UN Procurement Manual provides that at the request of a procurement officer, a company maybe provisionally registered in the Vendor's Database by the Vendor Database Officer, but in many instances the procurement officers did the provisional registration instead of the Vendor Database Officers.